Developer: ShotX Studio
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
A code was provided for review purposes
Danger Gazers is a top-down roguelike shooter similar to The Binding of Isaac and Enter the Gungeon. This game takes place in a post-apocalyptic society where people struggle to survive. To survive, you take your caravan through a variety of environments, defeating enemies along the way. Progressing through the game has you encountering items, new weapons, and upgrades to your character.
There are very few story elements in Danger Gazers. While this is not a problem, I found it disappointing that there was no lore tied into the weapons or the characters. The names of the weapons were generally not very creative, when they were more than just a description of the effects they offered, the name did not relate to any of the other characters or enemies in the game. While there does not need to be significant story elements in a roguelike top-down shooter, it would have been more rewarding if the game explained what the characters were trying to achieve. The game does not have any theming, the game does not have an opening cutscene, and the only reason I knew there was an apocalypse was from the description of the game. While a roguelike does not need a strong story, tying items, enemies and the playable characters would have made for a more fulfilling experience.
The game offers mild story elements by showing a newspaper detailing the events that happen after a boss is killed, but the newspaper does not offer meaningful lore. It is a cute addition and I think the developers should add more elements like this in the game. It makes the world seem real and helps the player feel immersed in the character’s world. I liked the addition of the magazines, and I think that the game needed more lore and background tied into the game.
The gameplay in Danger Gazers has a lot of interesting elements. Each playthrough follows your character partaking in a caravan. You see a map, and after each level, you choose where your character goes next. There are a variety of events such as fighting enemies, gambling gems, or visiting a shop. Navigating the map and choosing which events take place on your run offers strategy and is one of the most enjoyable elements of the game.
Traversing around each level, you will find passive items and weapons. The passive items have a possibility to be cursed. Cursed items have drawbacks as well as benefits while regular items solely offer benefits. While this was interesting in concept, the cursed items are almost always worthwhile to pick up, and I found myself picking them up all the time, meaning there was less strategy than the developers intended. The weapons were also interesting. You always carry a weapon with infinite ammo, either a revolver or a legendary weapon but the character can also carry a weapon that uses ammo, one most likely found from a chest. There is a decent amount of diversity here, but they tend to follow a theme. They can fall into classes, such as submachine gun, pistol, rifle, sniper, and shotgun. The diversity continues with weapons occasionally offering elemental effects, such as lightning and ice. The elemental effects helped the weapons feel more unique, but as I mentioned before, the lack of interesting names and story elements dampened my excitement when I first discovered them.
All playable characters have benefits and drawbacks to playing them, as well as their own unique ability. The unique abilities added additional diversity to each run such as having a shield or being able to summon lightning. Choosing the correct character can be the difference between a good and bad run. I liked the implementation of new characters and they added to the longevity of the game.
Not only does the variety of characters alter the gameplay, but there are masks that change factors of the game, such as increasing health and difficulty. Choosing these masks helps the player feel in control of the elements of the game, and again helps each run feel unique. However, these masks are unlocked by defeating elite enemies. While that offers a reason to enter these more challenging rooms, once all masks are collected, there is little reason to fight the elite enemies. It would have been interesting if they included additional rewards for facing these elite enemies.
Each level consists of enemies, chests, and vending machines. The level is completed once every enemy is defeated. You then receive a piece of the next map and return to the caravan. Finding the final enemies is often tedious, as there is no map showing the level. I found myself spending excess time in each level searching for the final enemies. The lack of a map was disappointing, and it made exploration frustrating.
At the end of each map, there is a boss. The boss designs were interesting and unique. It is obvious that there was a significant effort that went into these designs. Fighting each boss for the first time is exciting and makes you feel accomplished. After each boss is killed, they drop a legendary weapon and a passive item. These further rewards the achievement you accomplished. Unfortunately, the bosses become extremely easy to defeat after you learn their patterns. Additionally, the boss at the end of each world is the same every playthrough, meaning there is little diversity in the boss fights.
The game also offers Co-Op. This is an excellent addition, as playing with friends is extremely fun. However, there are some drawbacks. Having two people on the screen expands the view available to each player. However, the enemies react to the distance between them and the player, meaning they will target you even if they are off-screen. This was not a problem in the single-player mode because the player character was always the centre of the map. When you and your partner are on opposite sides of the map, it is very likely someone will get targeted by an off-screen enemy, and this may lead to frustration.
The music in Danger Gazers was suboptimal. The music was mainly upbeat electronic music. It reminded me of elevator music, and considering the environments, the music felt out of place, and it did not fit the atmosphere in my opinion.
Sound effects were even more disappointing, with the gunshots sounding fake and cheap, and enemy sounds barely audible. The enemy sounds are also disappointing. Many do not make sound effects. Instead, the developer utilized speech bubbles above the enemies to dictate their sound effects. I found that this not only decreased immersion but made the entire experience feel cheap and childish.
The artistic design of the game leaves me feeling conflicted. There are some parts which are incredibly graphically appealing, but some other parts that left me displeased. The levels are comprised of many blocks that seem out of place, and too square to be genuine. The ground textures are very bland, and the difference in the environments does not change the gameplay. Even the playable characters vary in quality. Some characters look good but some of the other characters, such as Ada, could use additional improvements to the sprite work. On the other hand, many of the enemies have unique and interesting designs, and the text that shows on-screen is extremely aesthetically pleasing. Furthermore, there are other characters such as the rotten elder and the shopkeeper who are intriguing and are well designed visually. The visuals are not something to come to this game for, but they are also not bad. They serve the purpose that they need to, and everything is legible.
A character’s movement is fundamental when constructing a game. Unfortunately, the movement in Danger Gazers is slow and boring. While one character has a dash, most characters do not have versatile movement options. Having additional movement options would make the game more manageable and more enjoyable. One of my biggest frustrations was traversing the map at the beginning of each run because my walking speed always felt too slow. While passive items increase your movement speed, travelling through the game without the upgrades is arduous and makes starting a new run less exciting.
There are also significant frame drops that occur in nearly every level. Porting a game onto the switch is challenging, but the game does not seem graphically intensive, and I was confused why it was stuttering so frequently. This further broke immersion and made each level more laborious than it needed to be.
While this is not necessarily a criticism, I found it frustrating that your own elemental effects can damage you. This slowed down gameplay because if there was an effect of poison on the ground, I would have to wait even if all the enemies were dead to ensure I did not injure myself.
For £8.09, this game has a lot of interesting concepts, some well-designed art, and unique characters. This game is enjoyable. However, due to the lack of interesting weapons, frame rate issues and uninspired music, I found myself wanting to play other games such as Enter the Gungeon more than this game. For the price, it offers a decent amount of content, but I would not recommend that you pick up this game if you have other roguelikes that you enjoy.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Danger Gazers on Switch
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.